COTs Control Program, Northwest Efate Is.

 COTs SWAT Report #11                Sat 27 Apr 2013

Having visited Moso Island  and Lelepa Island in the past 2 weekends to determine dispersion of COTs along the seaward coastlines, it was now time for us to return to the Paul's Rock seamount area to see if the larger aggregations of COTs were still moving from Devil's Point via Tukutuku Point towards Mangaliliu  Village.
We dropped anchor in 22 m water,  on an extensive, low-lying coral reef rising from a sandy floor about 100 metres to the South of Paul's Rock, which we had cleared of COTs  on our 6 April cleanup.
Well, we had some new arrivals alright.  Big, first generation ones which, even when curled up in a ball, barely fitted inside the flour bag entrance.
6 scuba divers from  Big Blue Dive, Devil's Point Dive and Sailaway Dive, collected about 150 in a 50 minute scuba to 22 metres, effectively clearing out that area once again. 
  Some of this group had already moved  Eastward to the shoreward side of Paul's Rock ,  so our afternoon dive followed white scarring towards shore about 100 m, where we collected a further 77  large COTs.
These were taken ashore to a remote beach and 227 physically counted.
There would appear to be waves of these critters moving along this coastline at depths of 15 to 25 metres.
Next Saturday's foray needs to be the reef system back from Paul's Rock towards Tukutuku Point, where another group are probably building up battalion strength right now.  They then seem to move as a group quite fast over the sandy plains from one reef system to the  following one. 
So far, only a few dozen had breached our defence line around the base of Paul's Rock and been subsequently removed, but weekly vigilance here is essential to keep back the hordes.
1.   Devil's Point Dive  report that there are still a lot of Mele Bay COTs rounding TukuTuku Point in deeper waters out from the caverns there.
This area  should be a priority collection area, as it would be better to remove them there, than wait for them to devour lots more coral and arrive fattened up at  our Paul's Rock defence zone.
2.  Tranquillity Dive have been doing COTs collections in the Bells Reef,  mid-Moso Island area.  The COTs seen on the Northeast side of the extensive Bells Reef, are mainly in the shallows  (from 2m to 6m ) along the reef & shoreline.   Dispersal is around 4 COTs per 10m x 10 m square area ,  as individuals rather than clumps.  So this is also a priority area to cull the numbers moving down the coastline from the Nguna/Pele outbreak a few years ago.
 These could be collected by Villagers on snorkel.  The sooner we get a program together to encourage Villagers to help protect their own underwater environment, the better.
3.  The East coast of Tanna Island is also experiencing a wave of tiny COTs, about hand-sized. This must be the result of a recent spawning, 6 to 12 months ago.  We have no prior knowledge of whether this is a First spawning or a subsequent spawning.    Staff from local Resorts are removing them from  shallow fringing reefs .
Details are sketchy at the moment, but there appear to be enough concerned people to warrant setting up a Committee centred around the  Dive Operators of the Vanuatu Scuba Operator's Association who are able to monitor  COTs numbers and movements;  plus Hoteliers who realise the importance of healthy reefs as a major Tourist attraction to Vanuatu;  and  Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction  operatives, who see that an Underwater Disaster is currently in progress and needs immediate attention.
Further details on these initiatives will be reported as they become effective.
My COTs Reports will continue into the future, as long as time permits.
The NAB,    *National Advisory Board on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction*    have allowed me to post these Reports directly onto their web portal:
So, other interested people can view rotating Articles on the NAB Home Page to see current Reports on the *History of COTs Around Efate Island*,  as well as a huge range of Environmental articles relating to Climate Change or other Disaster management issues.
Articles only stay up on the website for a week or so and are then archived.  To see previous COTs articles, go to   > Resources  and  then > Article Search.
Cheers for now,  see pics below:
Peter @ Sailaway.